E-toll delay is a farce
The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) regards the decision to delay the signing of the Transport & Related Matters Amendment Bill, under the guise that it may be incorrectly tagged in the parliamentary process, as simply a tactic to give the ruling party time to juggle their way around this most uncomfortable situation.
The question of whether it should be tagged as a Section 76 or 75 bill was raised by the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) earlier in May this year, during the parliamentary process where every political party, barring the ANC, voted against the bill. Today, SANRAL claims this bill is required in order to proceed with e-tolls, however, this regulatory requirement was not an issue for them in August 2012, when SANRAL’s legal team argued hard in the Constitutional Court that, they would start tolling within two weeks of the interdict being set aside (which happened a month later). If the tagging of the bill was indeed an issue, this should have been noted last year, or at worst, a few months ago when the FF+ raised the matter in the parliamentary debate on the bill.
The reality is that e-tolls has become an election issue and one that is too hot a potato for the ruling party to handle right now. Conveniently, they have latched onto this technicality that could possibly help them to ‘kick the can down the road’ for another eight months or so. In the meantime, SANRAL cries loud for the need to start tolling, as its funds are critically low and they are ready to toll. It doesn’t take much to see through the charade and shambles this matter has turned out to be.
Adding to the farce, is SANRAL’s continued gross expenditure of tax-payer’s money on a failed e-tag sales and propaganda campaign, seeking in vain to solicit society to buy into their irrational plan. “This will probably go down in the advertising case study journals as the most unsuccessful marketing campaign of all time in our country” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s chairman. “When one considers that several millions of rands have been pumped into their radio, television and print campaign, resulting in the sale of an additional ‘handful’ of tags and a growing rejection of their plan, the message to avid marketing students is just this; no matter how you try to disguise it, donkey manure can never be sold as food. The people will simply not buy it. If it’s not good for society to consume, it’s simply not going to happen”.
In September 2012, a significant element in the Constitutional Court reasoning of their decision to set aside OUTA’s interdict, was that court decisions should be careful not to usurp the executive powers of an elected government. “Isn’t it ironical that now, when we have a policy which clearly portrays the ruling party’s position on social infrastructure development, they seek ways to remove the issue from the electorate debate” says Duvenage, who adds “why then don’t the authorities place the e-toll matter squarely into the electioneering fray, if indeed this is the stuff that Executive Powers ought to be rated and voted on”.